By Sam Hoyt – I have known Kathy Hochul for nearly 30 years, both as a friend, fellow Western New Yorker, and colleague and I’ve seen her hard work and dedication over the years at the local, state and federal level while I served for 20 years in the NY Assembly and as as the head of the Western NY Empire State Development under the previous Governor. In every position she has held she has been a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done type of leader.

Governor Hochul knows that there is no issue too small when it impacts the viability and success of small business and she, more than anyone else, understands how new opportunities can positively impact livelihoods and the entire state economy. As a town board member in Hamburg she mastered grassroots advocacy, pushing for initiatives that impacted the bottom lines for her constituency, like removing the Thruway toll barriers. She has served as County Clerk and, after working as a staffer for the legendary late Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, became a member of Congress, winning a seat that few expected her to win. As Lieutenant Governor I can speak first hand about her work ethic, and the many miles she traveled each day to meet with and serve New Yorkers.

Governor Hochul approaches every issue with a sense of urgency and will not let any more dust settle on the recreational cannabis industry impacting hundreds of people looking to grow, process and retail recreational marijuana and infuse much needed money into the state economy. It is no surprise that one of her first acts as Governor was to begin appointments to the Office of Cannabis Management necessary to implement the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act.

She will build coalitions and identify partners to help her achieve her goals. As evidenced by her early and decisive actions regarding the OCM and CCB, I believe we have a leader who will work tirelessly to assure that New York’s adult use law is the catalyst for establishing the finest and fairest cannabis program in the country. She will work hard to implement the improvements and expansions to the State’s existing medical cannabis and hemp/CBD programs so that the cannabis industry may reach its full potential here in New York, and upstate farmers can have opportunities in this emerging space.

I anticipate that Governor Hochul will completely embrace the importance of social equity and will fight to assure that the communities that were hit the hardest by the shortsighted and ineffective “war on drugs” will be given a fair chance to compete and prosper in this new industry. Based on the appointments made to date and the Governor’s passion for Upstate NY, I am confident that there will also be geographic equity when it comes to the distribution of licenses across the state and the cannabis industries will breathe fresh air into our Upstate communities.

Much of what happens next in the industry depends on the regulations that are being developed, Governor Hochul will be sensitive to the need to balance expediency and sensible policy. She will demand that her team at OCM do whatever is necessary to make up for lost time and get licenses out the door as quickly as possible.

Sam Hoyt is an experienced government professional having served in the NYS Assembly for nearly two decades, as the regional president of Empire State Development under Governor Andrew Cuomo and as the regional director of the Western NY office for then Senator Patrick Moynihan.